American Elephants

Guantanamo: Myths, Propaganda, and The Consequences of Progressive Politics. by The Elephant's Child

BN-LD124_2gitmo_M_20151105184452Under the Obama administration, the Democrats have lost 900 state legislature seats, 12 more states are now governed by Republicans, Congress now has 69 more Republican House seats, and 13 more Republican Senate seats. That’s Obama’s legacy. Normally, when Congress has turned against the president’s programs, the president will seek to cooperate more, or at least consult, with the other party in recognition of the intent of the people.

Obama, on the other hand, has determined that he’s going to show the people just who’s the boss and govern by executive orders and memos. When Obama released Taliban who were being held at Gitmo in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, he sent them to Qatar, for the Qataris to manage. He said:

We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely. That’s been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantanamo. There is a certain rate that takes place.

I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought it was contrary to the American national security and we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if, in fact, they are engaging in activities that threaten our defenses. But this is what happens at the end of wars. That was true for George Washington, that was true for Abraham Lincoln, that was true for FDR. That has true for every combat situation, that at some point you make sure that you try to get your folks back, and that’s the right thing to do.

The Editorial Board at Bloomberg remarked that “It may come as a surprise to Barack Obama that the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces does not necessarily get to decide when a war is over.”

He also does not understand that the detainees in Guantanamo are not prisoners of war, to be sent home when the war ends,  but terrorists — armed enemy combatants who do not qualify under the Geneva Conventions  as prisoners of war. They have nevertheless been treated as humanely as if they were.

Democrat political propaganda has attempted to portray the detainees at Gitmo as if they were subject to daily torture. Innumerable inspections from every human rights group have determined that they are being well treated, with respect for the Muslim religion. Yet articles about Gitmo are usually 640x392_50143_187015accompanied by this image of the first arrivals, as if this was the daily state of affairs there. It is not. If you look up pictures of Guantanamo, the list of queries includes wanting to see pictures of torture, or of waterboarding.

Democrats always believe their own propaganda, probably because they don’t read anything else. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 were formed because of the way Allied prisoners of war were treated by the Japanese and the Nazis. Today ISIS chops off heads and burns their prisoners alive, or ask John McCain about the Vietnamese, long after the Conventions were accepted as international law. Nazis during WWII were detained in prison camps here, and were well treated. Yet the myth persists. Democrats are always sure detainees are being mistreated, because to so believe fits their political agenda.

Normally, six national security agencies and the Defense Secretary must sign off on letting a detainee go. Obama has ignored them and had his own special committee appointed, composed largely of compliant minions, to make the decision. Announced just as the Pope was arriving, Abdul Shalabi, suspected of being an Osama bin Laden bodyguard, was released back to Saudi Arabia. Shalabi has agreed to take a ‘rehabilitation class’ in Saudi Arabia.

Out of 647 detainees who have been released from Guantanamo Bay, 116 have gone right back to “re-engaging” in terrorism according to a report from the DNI James Clapper.

In August, Muktar Yahya Najee al Warafi  sued for release on the grounds that the war is over and the law authorizing it (and his detention) has expired. (Yes the detainees have full access to attorneys).  Warafi, a Yemeni, served as a medic for the Taliban in 2001. He cited claims by White House officials and Obama’s declaration last January that “America’s longest war has come to a responsible end.”

U.S District Court Judge Royce Lamberth was not persuaded. As long as hostilities continue, so does the war’s legal basis, and Obama’s rhetoric does not overturn Congress’ intention.

President Obama is about to send Congress a plan to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay. It is doomed from the start, but then he can shut down Gitmo by executive order. As Josh Earnest said, we “work with Congress where we can, but if Congress continues to refuse, I wouldn’t rule out the President using every element of his authority to make progress.” The Wall Street Journal added:

Another day at the office for a progressive President intent on reducing the legislative branch to a nullity. For the record, the National Defense Authorization Act this year contains an explicit congressional ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. through 2016.

The White House wants to transfer the prisoners to the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in South Carolina; at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, or the federal supermax prison in Colorado. The WSJ again:

Mr. Obama’s inability to negotiate honestly with the legislature is a hallmark of his Presidency. More damaging is the precedent he is setting by making major policy changes with no more than a wave of his executive hand. Press reports note that Administration lawyers are working on legal justifications for the Gitmo order. Decision first, the law later.

The press is still invested in Obama’s success, or at least in quieting outrage. Any other president who, while prosecuting an unpopular war, credited with 3 out of 4 deaths in Afghanistan under his watch, saw a series of critical national security advisors resign might get some unfavorable coverage. On Sept. 22, General John Allen announced his intention to resign, Within a week, Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, handed in her resignation. The report from Commentary with the details is a devastating account of a president paralyzed with indecision. He is being tested by the world’s bad actors and has little resolve to act early and decisively.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith Has Pleaded Not Guilty in Federal Court. by The Elephant's Child


The Turks first arrested Sulaiman Abu Ghaith weeks ago. The Turks passed him on to Jordan where he was captured. As a high-ranking al Qaeda figure and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, it shows that the war on terror is still on, and we are still on offense. Well, sorta. The good news is that he is in U.S. custody, and it is bad news for his fellow jihadists.

The problem is that the Obama administration views terrorism as a law-and-order matter, and Abu Ghaith will be tried in a criminal court in Manhattan, where he, according to the rights of a detainee in a New York court, has lawyered-up and pleaded “not guilty” on Friday to one count of conspiracy to kill Americans.  I wrote a couple of weeks ago in a discussion of Chuck Hagel’s nomination:

Mark Bowden’s new book The Finish about the bin-Laden raid  discloses President Obama’s desire to capture bin Laden rather than kill him so that he could be tried in court. He quotes the president as saying he thought he would be in a strong political position to argue in favor of giving bin Laden the full rights of a criminal defendant if bin Laden went on trial for masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr,” Obama is quoted saying in an interview with Bowden.

Obama believed that affording terrorists “the full rights of criminal defendants would showcase America’s commitment to justice for even the worst of the worst,”

Obama’s warped view of Islamic terrorism; his idea that the Israeli conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah is the cause of Middle East troubles; his idea that Egypt is a potential friend and sending 20 F-16s to them is a bright idea, is beyond troubling.

Abu Ghaith doesn’t belong in a federal courthouse. He belongs at Guantanamo, where he can be thoroughly interrogated. The number one priority should be actionable intelligence. The Obama administration has long attempted to bring the terrorists at the detention center at Gitmo to be tried in American federal courts, and justifiably met strong objections from Congress.

The “War on Terror” has been very hard for the left to understand. They understood going into Afghanistan in search of bin Laden right after 9/11. That was clear, get the bad guy responsible.They didn’t understand Iraq, the horrors of Saddam Husein’s rule, and when we didn’t find nuclear weapons instantly, they went berserk. WMD — weapons of mass destruction, to many minds meant only nukes.

The first pictures of prisoners being transported to Guantanamo in orange jumpsuits and hoods told them instantly that the detainees were being tortured. Wars are only supposed to last for 4 years, no more. They are supposed to be with a country, not a word. They never got the distinction between a soldier and a terrorist — an insurgent refusing to follow the rules of war —and why it matters.

We’ll see how it works out. What are the sentencing guidelines  for” conspiracy to kill Americans? As Jason Riley said in the Wall Street Journal:

Of course, President Obama won’t send people to Guantanamo anymore. He’ll blow you to pieces with a drone but says interrogating you at Gitmo is a human rights violation. Figure that one out.

Detainees Will Be Tried by Military Commission at Guantanamo. by The Elephant's Child

One of the strangest phenomena of recent years has been the Left’s attitude towards the prison at Guantanamo, and the terrorists imprisoned there.

There are difficult dilemmas involved in handling captured killers who refuse to obey the rules of war, let alone the rules of civilized society.  Find a way to let them go, try them and sentence them to prison terms or death, or detain them indefinitely.  Those are the choices. Over 25% of the detainees who have been released have returned to the battlefield, and those are only the ones we can identify.

In declared wars, as in World War II, when the war was over the POWs were released. And when will the war on terror end? Nazis Hermann Goering and Adolf Eichmann were sentenced to hang for their crimes. KSM and Ramzi bin al Shibh get three halal meals a day and hope that they will be released someday. As the Wall Street Journal said:

The Obama policy against military tribunals also devalues a legal wartime paradigm developed over centuries. This paradigm distinguishes between lawful combatants who wear a national uniform and obey the rules of war and unlawful combatants who do not. Without military justice, terrorists will know that, unless they are killed on the battlefield, the worst that can befall them is detention. We will have degraded the punishment for engaging in barbaric behavior against all civilized norms.

The President’s political mess over detainees is his own creation. To win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama sided with the anti-anti-terror left against Bush policies, only to discover the world is more dangerous and complicated than he imagined.

The president has pretended for two years that terrorism is a crime.  That collided with his responsibility to protect the nation. Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempt to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 criminal defendants on U.S. soil was halted by a Democrat controlled Congress and New York senators who refused to fund any move of suspects to American soil. These captured killers have no right to the constitutional protections that apply to citizens.

Attorney General Eric Holder exposed the strange thinking —or lack thereof—of the Left on Monday as related by the New York Times in an editorial:

The attorney general was all scowls yesterday when, according to a poignant New York Times editorial, “Mr. Holder’s dream . . . crumbled.” The somnolent fantasy in question was the “federal court trial for the self-professed mastermind of Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,” which Holder “described . . . as ‘the defining event of my time as attorney general,’ ” although it did not happen and will not happen.How fitting it would have been to put the plot’s architect on trial a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, to force him to submit to the justice of a dozen chosen New Yorkers, to demonstrate to the world that we will not allow fear of terrorism to alter our rule of law.

So KSM is presumed guilty,  he is forced to “submit to the justice” of a dozen chosen New Yorkers.  The purpose is to “demonstrate to the world” so the proceeding is to be a show trial.  The Times assumes that the world would be impressed by “our rule of law.” The piece was titled “Cowardice Blocks the 9/11 Trial.  Apparently the idea is that Americans are cowards to fear KSM when there are home-grown mass murderers.  Strange thinking.

Guantanamo was the best solution available for a difficult problem. Military commissions are the proper form of trial, and they should be conducted at Gitmo, the model prison facility.  Bush was right.

Playing Politics With Guantanamo Bay. by The Elephant's Child
August 27, 2010, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Islam, Law, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of the alleged coordinator of the October, 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a major al-Qaeda figure was to be tried at Guantanamo under a reformed system of military commissions.  The attack on the Cole, nearly 10 years ago,  killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

The Justice Department filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that “no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future.” The statement was included in a motion to dismiss a petition by Nashiri’s attorneys.  It suggests that the prospect of further military trials for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay has halted, as has the administration’s plan to try the accused plotters of the September 11, 2001 attacks in federal court.

Military officials said that a team of prosecutors in the Nashiri case had been ready to go to trial for some time, and it was expected that Nashiri would be arraigned this summer.

Only two cases are moving forward at Guantanamo Bay, but both were sworn and referred for trial by the time Obama took Office.  In January of 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the Convening Authority for Military Commissions to stop referring cases for trial, an order which has not been rescinded 20 months later.

One observer said “It’s politics at this point.” He said he thinks the administration wants some prospect of civilian trials for other major figures at Guantanamo.

The Defense Dept. issued a statement saying that the case is not stalled. “Prosecutors in the Office of Military Commissions are actively investigating the case against Mr. al-Nashiri and are developing charges against him.

Obama remains determined to close the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay.  Which makes no sense at all.  Holder still plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. The position of the administration is incoherent.

Vice President Cheney Gave a Splendid Speech at AEI on Thursday. Here It Is. by The Elephant's Child
May 23, 2009, 12:23 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Middle East, National Security | Tags: , ,

With an uncooperative Congress refusing to appropriate funds to close Guantanamo, President Obama didn’t really want to make a national security speech. But he was being criticized by both Democrats and Republicans who believe that bringing the “worst of the worst” detainees from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay to the United States for trial and imprisonment is a bad idea. Obama really doesn’t like criticism.

And then there is Dick Cheney — Mr. Gravitas himself.  Democrats have for years  attempted to portray him as Darth Vader, but it simply doesn’t work.  Vice President Cheney is above all a patriot, and concerned for the welfare of his country.  He has served in government in many administrations with great distinction.  He is no longer in office, he has nothing to gain from speaking publicly, no favor to seek, no elections to win or lose.  He is a private citizen with vast experience who wished the present administration success in the current troubled world.  He does not criticize President Obama, but merely explains why, in the Bush administration, they made the policy decisions that they did.  It was a splendid speech and deeply illuminating, the actions that they took carefully explained.

Well.  The usual suspects (who probably didn’t either hear or read the speech) were immediately out there foaming at the mouth, calling Mr. Cheney all the usual names.

President Obama’s speech was surprisingly defensive, and deeply dishonest.  But one wonders why Obama feels it necessary to constantly denounce his predecessor, who was extremely gracious to him, helping him to meet all the living presidents in private and ask their advice, making the transition easy and comfortable.  I guess Obama is just another far-left sufferer from BDS.  But the campaign is over.  Bush has returned to private life, and Bush is not responsible for the financial problems.  It’s time for Obama to take responsibility for his own actions, and deal with the problems that he finds on his plate, without whining, as all past presidents have had to do.

The necessity for closing Guantanamo is a mystery.  So the French don’t like it — so what? If Gitmo, a state-of-the-art facility, is reduced to rubble and all detainees incarcerated in our maximum security prison, the French still won’t commit any more troops to Afghanistan, take any more of our prisoners, or commit any more funds.  They don’t care about Guantanamo at all; it’s only the usual European demagoguery.

Attorney General Holder was in Europe recently trying to get European governments to accept some of our detainees.  He was addressing a group of journalists, professors and others, and someone in the audience asked “Why can’t you just put the innocent ones in a hotel?” As if there were innocents there.

This demonstrates the problem. Those who have some foggy idea that the Iraq War was “unnecessary”, that our policies “created” terrorists, and why did we have to mess with Saddam anyway, are so far from grasping the basic nature of the problem that it is perhaps impossible to explain.  Obama is beginning to grasp the nature of the detainees and to understand that there are some that, although vicious and dangerous, have not officially committed a crime.  They are military prisoners, detained because in an ongoing war they cannot be returned to the battlefield to kill Americans.  Of those already released, one in seven has returned to fighting with al Qaeda.

A lot of thought and study went into the construction of the facility at Gitmo. A lot of propaganda effort by those opposed to the war went into an attempt to make it appear as something evil.  So re-brand it.  Change the name.  If we can continue the war by calling it an “overseas contingency operation”, then call the detention center  the Caribbean Detainee Resort, The Reeducation College for Contingency Guests.  Suggestions are welcome.  No prizes.

Here is Vice President Cheney, plain-spoken, honest and full of gravitas:

Bold leadership is the new paradigm! by The Elephant's Child

There is some confusion about Barack Obama’s intentions towards the U.S military prison at Guantanamo  Bay and the very,very dangerous detainees held there.  Two members of  the presidential transition team have now clairified the whole conundrum.

On his very first day in office—  or maybe in the first week —  President-elect Obama is preparing to issue an executive order about Guantanamo that will start the process of beginning to decide what to do.

There.  That clears up the whole thing.


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